Saturday, August 31, 2013


Hello all you lovely people, I hope your week has been more fantastic than the thought of a thousand rabbits on mini-bikes chasing Richard Simmons!

I received this picture and description this week from Rachel Dickerson:

 "Just finished an extremely entertaining and HILARIOUS short novel by an amazing new author. Congrats Allison I look forward to your next book." 

Thank you Rachel! And thank you to all of you who have read and provided me with feedback on Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus! Your wonderful words have been so encouraging!

So this past week one of the biggest new stories of the year broke. Syria... oh wait, sorry, never mind, wrong one. The biggest story of modern memory, according to the media, is that Miley Cyrus was caught on stage at the MTV Music Video Awards dancing provocatively along with
Robin Thicke.

Ok, first I would like to state that "provocatively" might be a strong term. I'm not sure who found Miley's tongue being stuck out of the side of her mouth for a majority of the performance "sexy." She looked like a giraffe.

No seriously, how can this:

Not remind you a bit of this:

Miley, I realize that you desperately want everyone to know that you are not a little girl anymore, and that you've become an adult. However this look: 

Doesn't so much scream, "I'm an adult!" 

Instead it really screams, "You're not the boss of me anymore! I can do what I want! I don't have a bedtime anymore! <insert other almost meaningless rebellious statements here>"

Miley, if you want to be taken seriously as an "adult" performer, dressing up as a teddy bear and running around displaying less class than a backwoods Arkansas trailer park is not going to get you there.

Also, please don't promote this kind of behavior, you have thousands of young teenage fans whose tongues I really don't want to see hanging out of their mouths.

And that is all I have to say about Miley, but not all I have to say about this "media sensation."

My actual first thought upon seeing the video clip, that I could not have avoided unless I poked my eyes out with a spork, was not, "Wow, Miley is being super provocative."

My first blush response was, "Wow, Robin Thicke is something that rhymes with is last name (you have a couple of options there, choose the one you find most useful)."

So far the harshest mass media criticism has been on what he chose to wear:

Granted his outfit made him an easy choice to star in any "Beetlejuice" sequels that might be in the future, but that isn't his only similarity to Beetlejuice's character.

Robin Thicke's behavior was downright creepy.

Yes, I said creepy.

Standing up in front of a live crowd of thousands, as a married 36 year old man, and dancing "provocatively" with a 20 year old, who is dressed in a little girl-esque teddy bear outfit (followed by flesh tone underwear), while singing a song that promotes the acceptance of rape culture is CREEPY!"

And yes, that song is garbage. I don't care what you say to defend the tonal atrocity, it promotes disrespecting women. If the lyrics included, "And then I asked her, politely, if she wanted to dance," or "I told her that I would like to take her out to a nice dinner," and the song wasn't titled "Blurred Lines," then I might be willing to hear arguments to the contrary.

Just because it is kind of catchy (in that heard-this-beat-a-million-times-before kind of way) does not make it a good song.

The fact that all the headlines are screaming, "Miley Cyrus Did XYZ!" and not "Robin Thicke Did XYZ," scares me. The media acts shocked that a woman would be acting this way (even though we know they are not in the slightest) but it gives no such, albeit fake, surprised response to Thicke's performance.

It deeply concerns me that a father being an absolute cad on stage while singing, "That's why I'm goin' to take a good girl, I know you want it," is considered so normal that it barely receives any mention.

Also, what a great example to be setting for your son, Robin! He's not being influenced to grow up and treat women like objects at all. (There is enough sarcasm dripping from that statement that you could wring it out and fill a bucket, just in case you didn't catch that.)

Well thank you Robin Thicke, now the next time someone asks me why I still believe that feminism has a place in America, I now can point to you emphatically as my example A.

What was your reaction to the "media sensation" that has been, oh so subtly, shoved down your throat for the past week?

As always, feel free to follow my exploits on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Giraffe People

Hello everyone! I hope you had a more fantastic week than the thought of a thousand neon-painted crickets armed with tiny bats chasing after a lion.

My week has been... fascinating. Fascinating in that, "I think I might need one of those nice white jackets that lets you hug yourself," kind of way.

For instance, on Wednesday, I walked into one of the social work agencies I work with, and the first thing I was met with was two, giant, tattooed, color flying gang bangers... who were knitting.

As I walked by, one of them turned to the other and said, "Ah, mother-@$!#*! I just missed a stitch!"

Apparently the leader for the AA group that was supposed to meet that morning had not shown up, but all the participants had to have a sober activity to do for a couple of hours to meet their service requirements. So, some little old lady taught them to knit.

That mental image, for me at least, can brighten even the darkest day.

This week I had the opportunity to interview another Spokane-based author, Jill Malone, who wrote the wonderful book "Giraffe People."

Jill Malone's "Giraffe People" paints a vivid and unique picture of the classic coming of age story. Set in the life of a military preacher's kid, Malone manages to create a soul in her character of Cole who is both so genuinely a teenager in her speech and actions, but also feels like a sage in her realizations.

Readers feel a connection to Cole as she deals with relationships, the pressures of school, struggles with religion, family relations and becoming her own unique person. Malone also does an excellent job of talking about teenage relationships in a way that is realistic, instead of trite or overly dramatic. "Giraffe People" is a work that feels genuine and is a wonderful read.

Jill is also just an all around fantastic person, as I'm sure the answers to these questions will show.

What motivated you to start writing?

I've been writing stories since I was six. They used to feature daring animals and super sketchy artwork. In graduate school, I intended to focus on poetry, but discovered Alice Munro and saw an entirely different potential for short stories. My first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, began as a short story when I was 22. The story sprawled so much that it translated into a novel easily. I think we write because we're trying to explain the world to ourselves. To understand it.

For Giraffe People, I'd been listening to the New Yorker podcast of Tobias Wolff reading Stephan Vaughn's short story, Dog Heaven. Wolff said it was the first story he'd ever read that took on the lives of military dependents. It's a gorgeous story, and I felt, as I listened, how correct he is. There's too much silence about the experience of military dependents. I wanted to write about memory and the Persian Gulf War, about high school and music, about sexuality. I wanted to write about Jersey -- what an odd freaking base Fort Monmouth is. 

How hard was it, writing from the perspective of a teenager, to put yourself into that mindset?

Writing teens is delightful: they are self aware and clueless in a compelling way. I needed the clarity of Cole's observations about her self and the war, about the military and her family. She's individuating, and at the same time, she's discovering her sexual self and what that means. One of the things I'd forgotten about high school until I started writing the characters is how communal the experience is. We had eight classes and sports and extra curriculars and our community was huge. 

I also wanted to write the power imbalance of a teen. The way that imbalance is crucial when you're discovering your sexual self, and deciding what you believe, and negotiating the adult you'll become. The fact that Cole's father is a military chaplain is at the center of her life, but it isn't her center. She is starting to see that clearly.

I enjoyed remembering the strange world of high school. The kind of gum we chewed and the terrible acid-washed jeans. The crimped hair. The peculiar diction. I love that time when you realize that your parents are also just doing the best they can. That most of life is guess work. That's a terrible discovery and also one filled with grace. 

Which of your characters was your least favorite to write?

In Giraffe People, the character I struggle with most is the father. I have sympathy for him as a human, but his controlling impulses toward his daughter are not OK. When I was writing the novel, I didn't realize how timely the story would be. Since I finished the manuscript, Don't Ask Don't Tell is no longer policy; It Gets Better, and numerous other organizations, have changed the way the queer community reaches out to teens. I didn't have stories like this -- stories that felt true to my experience, stories that gave me a way to see my potential -- when I was first coming out. I felt vulnerable in high school in a way that mirrored my experience writing Cole Peters' father. 

Cole is discovering her own agency. And her father is not interested in that agency applying to her sexual self. I find his impulse to control her sexuality creepy, and it was hard to write about with fairness. 

"Giraffe People" is about youths. When you were writing it did you originally intend it for a youth audience?

I certainly hoped it would have crossover appeal, but I didn't set out to write a young-adult novel. Nor, for that matter, did I set out to write a lesbian novel. I wrote this story because it was important to tell. My favorite feedback so far has been from teen readers. They get the story in a different way. In that way that Cole experiences things -- as if for the first time, and bigger. 

What was your favorite part about writing this book?

 I love writing about music. I hadn't done that before. And writing teens is liberating. They can speak and observe exactly as it occurs to them and so the narrative goes in surprising places and feels like it's taking deep breaths. I didn't realize how much I loved being an Army Brat until I told this story. I have been lucky. And I feel it now more keenly than ever. Writing Cole -- getting to see the world from her perspective -- gave me a sense of living differently. I love the way she sees.  

If you had to pick one superhero to play checkers against, who would you choose?

I'd totally play against Wolverine. It would be gruesome.

"Giraffe People" is available at Bywater Books and on Amazon for anyone who is interested in this excellent read.

In other news "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" has gotten some really awesome reviews this week!

Kimberly Heiser writes, "I loved this book it's funny it's weird and I laugh every time I read it every day. Amazing book."

Thank you again to all of you who have read and reviewed my book, your support means more than you can imagine!

As always, you can follow my exploits on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Something To Be Tempted By

Hello! I hope everyone had a week that was more satisfying than that scene in "Jurassic Park" where the T-Rex ate the lawyer. You know, this scene:

Well it has been a crazy week for me. Everything from the man in the wheel chair who followed me down the street barking and growling at me, to the nude tweaker I had to help herd out of the street so he wouldn't get hit by a car to the lady who informed me that two of her personalities weren't talking to one another, made for one very special week.

The sad part is, the full moon isn't even until next week. Well at least it might provide material for a sequel to "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus," right?

Well, luckily, my week had a good point too. I had a chance to read a wonderful book by Denise Greenwood called "Temptation."

Denise Greenwood's darkly humorous and poignant work, "Temptation," is a captivating read. The book immerses the reader into the lives of the characters as they both deal with their own inner struggles and find themselves intertwined in the stories of others.

Denise's characters feel distinct and authentic, not just in their personal battles and desires, but in the way that they talk, react to one another and think. "Temptation" holds a reader's attention as each character's unique story unfolds to reveal new and deeper details that lend to a larger, compelling story. I would recommend "Temptation" to anyone who truly wants to lose themselves in a book for a while, I promise you will find yourself forgetting about the outside world entirely.

I not only got to read and review this work, but I also snagged an interview with Denise!  

What inspired you to start writing?

It was a childhood dream, like some kids want to be ballet dancers or astronauts, I always wanted to write but found I had nothing to say. My life became geared to a career and family, then, after a traumatic couple of years I found I had experiences and events I had to get out of my system and an idea came to me. The storyline for my first book "Temptation" slowly formed in my mind and I thought about it for a year before I finally sat down one day to see if I could write. To my surprise, I wrote the first chapter in one sitting and knew then that I had to continue. I was compelled.

You have a plethora of unique characters in "Temptation," how did come up with not only your characters, but their distinct stories?

Characters are an amalgamation of people I know, once knew and myself if split into several personalities. Some of their very distinct stories are based on actual events doctored to fit the storyline and character. For example the chapter ‘A Kiss for Bobby’ actually happened but it was told as an important aspect of one of the character’s lives.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write?

Reverend Jacob Alecks who appears in both ‘Temptation’ and ‘Star Keeper’ has to be my favourite. His suffering, confusion, decline into semi-madness in full public view and then surprise at the consequences was like watching a child grow up. He matured and evolved as I wrote.

How many of your characters are based on people you actually know? How many of those people, if any, realize that you've based characters in your book after them?

Each character is a mixture of traits, conversations and experiences of people I know mixed with a sprinkling of self and then a spoonful of imagination. I would be very amused if any of the people recognized something of themselves in any of my books and that is a luxury only a writer, actor or film maker can enjoy.

 What was your favorite part about the whole writing experience?

The whole process is cathartic and releases ghosts and demons that would otherwise be without a voice. As I write, I come to terms with personal events and the crazy things people say and do. If I had to compare it with anything, then it is like Mr Hyde being able to release Dr Jekyll on a leash.

If you could open a restaurant with any literary character (from your book or not) who would it be?

Tommy Knight from ‘Temptation’ goes on into my second book ‘Star Keeper’ and opens my ideal restaurant, a bistro-bookshop. He combines fine dining and wine with reading and debate. But, if I could choose someone I would run it with then it would have to be Annie Kinsella from the adaptation of W.P. Kinsella’s ‘Shoeless Joe.’ I love free spirits who will stand up for what they believe in even if it’s unconventional.

What kind of a response from readers has "Temptation" been receiving? 

I loved a review that described "Temptation" as “unique and risky” but quite a few readers have told me that they “laughed out loud” at some of the chapters. My story lines are often quite serious at heart and characters deeply layered but by using humour I diffuse otherwise tense and shocking scenes. It has been personally gratifying to hear my books described so.

If you are interested in finding a copy of "Temptation" it is on AmazonKobo and Barnes and Noble.

Remember you can always follow my adventures on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rock On, Politely

Hello all you lovely, wonderful people! (Unless you are the person who recently parked your giant SUV (with the spinning hubcaps) in such a way that it took up six parking spots in a parking lot that had a total of six spots, then you are scum. Talented scum, but scum.)

Anyways, I hope all of you have had  more fantastic weekend than the thought of a thousand neon painted guinea pigs tap dancing to "The Brandenburg Concerto."

My week was full of delusional people asking me to help them find jobs ("No, I'm sorry, but I don't find toads jobs."), random drivers who assumed the sidewalk, where I was walking, was actually a third lane and one random shirtless gentleman, who held aloft his mighty spoon and announced that, "Cowards will not prevail!"

So in less insane news, Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus has gotten another awesome review!

John Hartnett writes, "...Ms. Hawn's endearing personality shines through much of her work. Often self deprecating, she is not one to put herself up on a pedestal to look down at the rest of the world. In many of her pieces, she's right there clamoring and stumbling along with the rest of us and writing from that vantage point is where Ms.Hawn excels..." (Full review here.)

So this weekend I was here:

In case you can't read the banner behind the bedraggled looking singer, I saw Saliva in concert, which was awesome!

It was like going back to middle school (which is about when they popped up on the musical horizon for me), but without all the acne, awkward body changes and overall awfulness that middle school brought.

I am a concert junky. I have seen over 100 bands in concert, everyone from Heart, to M.C. Hammer to Megadeth to Weird Al Yankovic (three times on that one, actually).

There is something more than magical about a well done live performance. It's everything from the energy of the crowd, to feeling the beat of the music resonate on your spine and in your ribcage that gives one a moment in time where they can forget almost entirely about oneself and just immerse oneself in a world of music.

Now, out of the 100 or so concerts I have been to (I honestly stopped counting after my 80th one back in 10th grade), quite a few of them have been rock concerts.

As I stood, not terribly far from the stage this past Friday, I looked around and saw many brand new concert babies.

Concert babies are not hard to pick out. They are the ones who have so obviously never been to a rock concert that you can almost smell fresh meat and innocence in an aura around them.

There were so many of them at this concert that I barely could take a step without trampling on one of their ill-advised, flip-flop clad feet. As it appears that we have yet another generation of rockers joining the ranks, I have decided that it might be time to post the unspoken rules of rock concerts; "Mosh-pit Etiquette" if you will.

So for those new to concerts, or those long time veterans who have somehow managed to miss the memo, here's a few things to keep in mind.

1. Wear appropriate clothing. Rock concerts are not places for your finest evening gown, a great place to wear just a bikini top or anything else that can be easily ruined or ripped off. One thing that I would like to specifically iterate; if you are going to be down on the floor anywhere near where a mosh-pit could break out (so anywhere on the floor, really) wear actual shoes. Not flip-flops, not heels, not loafers, SHOES!

Why? Because there are going to be at least 5 or 6 guys per concert who are built like this:

Do you want that landing on your unprotected feet? No? Then wear actual shoes.

2. You will get sweaty. Not all of the sweat will be your own. Come to peace with this fact and deal with it. You can shower later.

3. For those well-seasoned concert goers (and I'm not talking about concert goers covered in thyme and a thick marinade), watch out for the little ones. You were 13, wide-eyed and dumber than a brick once upon a time too. Yes, they are annoying, but as more experienced concert goers, it does fall to us to make sure that these little ones survive this concert to have their eardrums blasted again another day.

4. In the mosh-pit, if someone falls pick them up! Yes, if you jump into a mosh-pit you can pretty much assume that some form of bodily harm is coming your way. However, smashing someone's face into the floor just because they can't get up in time is not part of the deal. Don't be a twit, just help them up.

5. That being said, if you decide to foray into a mosh-pit, no whining due to your bruises, scratches and/or giant footprints left in your stomach later. You cannot poke a velociraptor with a stick, then whine when it rips your arm off.

6. Never drag someone into a mosh-pit or throw them up to be crowd surfed if they don't want to! I cannot count the amount of absolutely terrified faces I have seen in, and subsequently had to drag out of, mosh-pits. Seriously, if your friend says they don't want to go, save others the trouble of having to "save" your completely unprepared companion from your need to be a jerk. Let your friend enjoy the music and the experience.

7. Don't try to smoke a bowl in the middle of a concert. Guess what, the bouncers are all super tall, and can see when you light up. Plus, good luck trying to deny that it was you who who caused the entire area to smell skunked when you look like this:

That, and I really don't need to be lit on fire again when someone bumps into you as you're trying to smoke in the center of a quickly moving crowd.

8. Rock concerts are not for people who are claustrophobic or who don't like being touched. You will touch lots and lots of people and they will be touching you. Some of it is unintentional, some of it is intentional. If it's intentional and inappropriate, elbow them in the ribs "accidentally" and move on.

9. It's not going to be fun if you don't jump in. Give it some energy. If your calves aren't sore from jumping up and down the next morning and you don't sound like you've been smoking for 70 years because you yelled so much last night, then something is very wrong. If you don't buy into the energy coursing through the room, then you aren't getting the full experience. If it helps, think of it as a form of exercise (because I promise it is one of the best cardio workouts of your life).

It's not hard to both have an awesome time at a concert and not be a complete twit too. Just keep in mind these little understood guidelines that basically break down to the same Golden Rule; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and maybe that giant, tattooed behemoth to your left won't decide to use you as a toothpick.

Did I miss anything important to add to that list? If so, let me know!

As always feel free to follow my raucous exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Monday, August 5, 2013

We Have a Winner! (And a Very Sore Writer)

Hello all of you who have managed to crawl through the workday to survive Monday thus far!

Well, first off, we have a winner to the the contest to win a signed copy of "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" and have his or her writing featured in my next book!

There were a plethora of fantastic entries, but Diane Snyder's completion of "Going through airport security is like..." with "...trying to shave a grizzly bear's legs and then put her in a dress. Most of it is a waste of time, and the rest is a major hassle!" wins! Excellent job Diane!

If you did not win this time around don't despair, I promise there will be more contests soon!

So I apologize for the lateness of this blog post, but there's a very good reason for my tardiness. This weekend I was doing this:

And this:

And this:

If you can't figure out what I was doing (despite all the people, including myself, in kilts), I competed at the Spokane Highland Games this weekend.

Basically, I spent around 9 hours hefting, throwing and glaring at various heavy objects when they didn't go where I wanted them to go.

The Highland Games, for those who don't know, are comprised of several different events, such as weight for distance (first picture), weight for height, putting of the stone (third picture), hammer throw (second picture), the caber toss (which is when you see people in kilts running and throwing giant logs) and dodging flying projectiles.

So that last one is not an official event, but it is something one sometimes has to do if they don't wish to be killed by flying heavy implements.

It's kind of like a track and field meet, if track and field meets had you compete in every event offered, included people in kilts and were backed by bagpipe music all day long (I was hearing bagpipes for hours after I left). So it's a track and field meet with the intensity turned up about 93 notches.

It also provided me with a group of unique experiences that could only happen at a highland games competition.

For instance, it is not really a daily occurrence to have your kilt get caught on a chair as you're trying to stand up. Nor is it normal to high five someone and have your hands become grafted together because you forgot they were covered in tacky (a very sticky substance used to help with the caber toss). And while losing your car in a parking lot is common enough, losing it while carrying a log is less so. 

Truthfully, it was a fantastic experience, and now that I have a glimmer of an idea of what I'm doing, I will most certainly be training for next year's competition.

If anyone is in the Spokane area and wants to try it out, I would certainly encourage you to go to the Spokane Highland Games' website! Also, if you're interested but don't happen to have the joy of living in Spokompton, then I might suggest looking into the Scottish American Athletic Association for the games held closest to you.

Well, I had better go attempt to put my back into the correct alignment. Remember, you can always follow my exploits on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!